Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Vote For Pedro
As a good Mexican citizen, I took advantage of the new electoral law that allows Mexicans abroad with old voter cards to vote in the next Presidential elections. The system has improved from last time around, when instructions were so arcane, it was clear they wanted to make it as hard as possible for the millions of us who are abroad to vote. Why we can't go to our local consulates or embassies and vote is beyond me. We will probably get there in the year 3000. Yet now, after minimal bureaucracy, and with no cost to me, I got my voting package in the mail. The dilemma this time is that the three main candidates are abysmal. The fourth candidate from a newly minted party, nobody knows him from Adam, and though he looks and sounds like an egghead, he is a protege of Cruella De Vil, aka Elba Esther Gordillo, a paleolithic mafiosa who runs the 1.5 million strong teachers' union and who nobody has been able to get rid of for decades. I can't vote for him.
I did not see the presidential debate but learned that the most conspicuous feature was that the woman who was handing out the questions to the candidates (why do we need one?) looked like the vulgar version of a Playboy bunny. Which although sad and deeply shameful, should not be surprising. The political class in Mexico continues to treat Mexicans like retarded children. They think we are a bunch of ignorant, simple minded yahoos. It has barely noticed that Mexican society has changed at a par with the new facebook/twitter world order. Hence, they show their contempt for the Mexican people by picking a bunch of mediocre, incompetent losers. Mexicans are ready for a true democracy; not so their political parties and the media monopolies that have leeched on them for ages.
Only contempt can explain why the monolithic parties vying for the Mexican presidency chose their candidates so thoughtlessly. Like we say in Spanish, de los tres no haces uno. You can't make one by putting the three together.
The most egregious one is the PRI's guy, Enrique Peña Nieto, whose claim to fame is that he was governor of the State of Mexico, where he is accused of using violence to repress protests. But he is young and telegenic and, most importantly, married to a telenovela star, which also points to his party's unholy alliance with TV giant Televisa, a blight on the Mexican nation if there ever was one. As a campaigner, Peña Nieto has been a national disgrace. Unable to speak off the cuff at the most important book fair in the Spanish speaking world, he could not recall the name of ONE favorite book of his, which promptly launched an endlessly ingenious string of sarcastic memes that are still going on. People make fun of his ignorance, his inherited inability to speak normally (if you are from the PRI, you are genetically unable to be spontaneous. You speechify at the people, not talk to them), and his mini pompadour, also known as the copete. Most recently, in a very surprising development, he visited a posh private university, which his advisers undoubtedly thought a safe place, since the juniorcitos, the hijos de papi, the fresas and pirruris (all epithets that describe spoiled rich kids) who go there have never been interested in anything but their own well being. Lo and behold, he was chased out of the campus by a vocal group of students who, like any Mexican with an ounce of sense, do not wish to see the country revert back to the PRI and its corrupt, cynical, nefarious paternalism. If he had more backbone, perhaps he could have made himself heard above the racket. He chose to flee. Mexico being the country of mistrust, the country where no one is thought to have any purity or principle, soon the PRI spun the protest into what they themselves did for 70 years, accusing the students of being planted agents of the opposition. The 131 students, promptly created a viral video stating their names and showing their student cards to the camera to show that they were not anyone's lackeys. The most surprising, and most wonderful thing is that this happened in this fancy campus (the fancy have always voted for whoever keeps them that way, but not anymore). It is encouraging to see youth in revolt, and I certainly hope they will take this revolt to the voting booth, from which they have been traditionally absent, if anything, to show the PRI it is not wanted back. There was an impressive march of young people against the PRI, which the media was trying to downplay. The pictures point at a hell of a lot of people down Reforma Avenue.
I keep hearing Peña Nieto is ahead in the polls, but I surmise these polls are as trustworthy as a Mexican politician. After his terrible public appearances, all I hear is utter disgust with him so I wonder who in that fictitious country of polls actually likes him.
Meanwhile the PAN, which has been in power for 12 years (after 70 of the PRI's perfect dictatorship, as Mario Vargas Llosa called it), and which has fallen from the public's grace mainly because of the suicidal war on drugs waged by President Calderón, chooses a woman who was Secretary of something or other, and who lacks any credentials to be the president. Not because she is a woman, but because if she were a man, she still would lack the credentials, the personality, and the acumen. Whose puppet is she? Because of the war on drugs, Mexicans want someone who is going to give them the impression he/she is going to deal with the violence. She represents somehow the worst aspects of the PAN, which is a right-wing Catholic party with an antiquated ideology about women, gays, and the rest of the enlightened world.
The third option, which many of the intelligentsia, the young and the eternally utopian endorse, is Andrés Manuel López Obrador, better known as AMLO, who was mayor of Mexico City and who lost the last presidential election and proceeded to orchestrate a disruptive, 6 month long hissy fit that paralyzed Mexico City and made me loathe him forever (even though I was not living there at the time). Sore losers cannot possibly be good leaders. This one, the oldest of the bunch by far, is a mix between old fashioned Mexican populist politics and tired Latin American lefty demagoguery. People are afraid that he will be Hugo Chavez Jr. I simply do not trust him. I don't trust people who promise to fix absolutely every injustice. They are liars. I was hoping that the candidate of his party, the PRD, would be the competent current mayor of Mexico City, Marcelo Ebrard, but the conventional wisdom is that he may be liked in DF but cannot win in the rest of the country (which tends to hate the capital). Mexico is a country where demagogic populism has been the norm for ages, hence they chose someone who connects more with the people. Pity, because Ebrard seems capable. Maybe six years from now?
I heard the recorded greetings the candidates made for us voters abroad and none of them said anything smart or sincere, but to my surprise, the only one who spoke about the situation with a broader point of view was Peña Nieto, even if it was fed to him through a teleprompter. The other two just pandered to the Mexican migrants to the US, as if the election hinged only on the immigration problem. And Quadri, the fourth guy, was just awkward.
The Mexican paper ballot leaves an open space to scribble an alternative candidate of your choice. Rather than abstaining, which is useless unless done by a concerted and huge majority, this is the only way I see to express my discontent with the candidates. I know who I am voting for. She is a very smart woman who is not a politician, but who is always reading Mexico the riot act. The vote is secret.
p.s.: Mexicans abroad, remember to send your ballots back before June 20!